South Africa’s Big Land Problem

What to do when farming doesn’t look like a lucrative prospect?

South Africa’s developing future lies with towns

South Africa is almost incomplete without mentioning the prejudice that befell upon the black population of the country because of the ‘Natives Land Act’ (1913). Because of that act, whites — who had also ruled the country, colonially, and are a minority figure in the population, could claim 90percent of the land for themselves.

Since then, thanks to corruption, public debt levels and bureaucracy, not much has changed in terms of land grabbing opportunities for blacks, despite the ANC proclaiming that 30percent of farms will be purchased at market rates by 1999. So far, only ten percent of that aforementioned percentage of farms have been delivered back and more is expected to follow within the next ten years.

Farms collected back from the state should be sold to urbanites, which make up more than 60percent the country’s population. Although, they do not reside in the country and are quite unlikely to turn their lives upside down by moving to the country and living off farms instead, the bigger problem with overcrowding in cities might soon erupt if ‘more and more people choose living in cities, over living in the countryside’ — the likely future.

Promoting farms as means of corporate investments could lure in South Africans back to the country — unemployment is a major headache for most. But what’s getting in the way again of progress here is that crime (a major problem in the African state) coupled up with lack of development in the rural areas (for South Africa) makes the land problem appear almost unsolvable and as a pointless pursuit for the government, when most of South Africa is gearing up with hopes of a better future in cities.

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